What to do?
..For I am possessed of a tree,
Surpassing in beauty,
From whom I take occasion
To bless Almighty God…
apologies to Benjamin Britten
At the end of my modest terrace garden is an enormous, thirty-year-old Horse Chestnut tree.
She, for she must be a she, is resplendent in leaf and heavy with blossom as write. Thick creamy blooms stand tall on every branch. A magnificent display of over indulgent spring fever.
Wood-doos live in this tree along with probably a whole city of other creatures. The former serenade us all day, bringing a welcome reminder of country life into our concrete world.
When I hang out my washing I gaze up into her verdant heights and relish every twig, leaf and flower… such richness, such magnificence; she is indeed a joy.
I have to admit to you however, she is a very large tree and towers not just over my garden but several others as well. When a mere seedling she presumably gave little indication of her future immensity and was planted in good faith, or perhaps fortuitously, found a spot and took root, like her small sister, recently located hiding under a shrub.
Now the dilemma. My neighbours have had enough. No afternoon sun in their gardens. More leaves everywhere despite drastic pruning last summer. She has outgrown her welcome.
In their defence, come July, like most of her species, her leaves will begin to curl and rust; a somewhat bedraggled and sickly sight. Her leaves, already copious, now fall prematurely, in other people’s gardens!
Should she come down, that is the question? A very kind and desperate neighbour is prepared to pay for her demise…
However, a tree is a tree is a tree. A precious lung for our planet, home to myriad insect life and a giver of so much joy.
“…everything has a right to be recognised and revered. Trees have tree rights, insects have insect rights, rivers have river rights, and mountains have mountain rights.” (Thomas Berry, “The Great Work,” in The Great Work, 5).
So much power in my hands… I feel like an executioner.
“That the universe is a communion of subjects rather than a collection of objects is the central commitment of the Ecozoic. Existence itself is derived from and sustained by this intimacy of each being with every other being of the universe.” (Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, 243)
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver